friends or facebook friends?

There was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.
– Rebecca West (1892 – 1983)

There is a whole post on what Facebook has done to the meaning of the word “friend”…and it (the post) continues to evolve and morph in my head; over and over and over again.

This isn’t that post though.  I am actually just reposting something i saw on my Facebook today.  Its a topic that i have heard at TGIFs, at dinners, in the cafeteria, and during lunch in the staff lounge … I think it is important, relative, and an interesting piece in re-defining our roles in School2.0.  I would really love your thoughts on it:

originally from:  http://www.isteconnects.org/2009/12/08/social-media-engagement-should-teachers-and-students-be-friends/

SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT: SHOULD TEACHERS AND STUDENTS BE FRIENDS?


Recent efforts to make Facebook safer for kids may provide more options to control who sees what postings, but they may not address affect the fundamental conundrum facing educators – whether they can or should engage with  students in social media networks like Facebook…

Friend requests from students have caused quite a dilemma for teachers in several school districts in Georgia that have recently proposed policies restricting how teachers and students can interact online.

According to the article “Ga. District Hones Social Media Policy” published Nov. 19 byTeacher Magazine, teachers in Barrow County near Atlanta, Georgia are facing a proposed policy that would prohibit teachers from interacting with students as peers, both online and off, and would ban them from posting “provocative photographs, sexually explicit messages, use of alcohol, drugs or anything students are prohibited from doing,” on their personal social media pages.

Although I maintain a personal Facebook page, I have a policy against Friending students. On occasion I will accept friend requests from students after they graduate, but I’m concerned about blurring the line between social and professional relationships.

I’m sure most middle and high school, and maybe even some elementary school teachers face this kind of dilemma. Do you interact with your students through social media sites? What do you think of administrative oversight of educators’ online activities?

One of the commenters quoted in the Teacher Magazine piece expressed concern about students who see teachers as confidants, particularly young people who have no other close adults they can trust. Could restricting student/teacher relationships be detrimental for students? Or is it a good idea to have clearly defined boundaries supported by official policies?

Tuesday, December 8th 2009 by Katie Stansberry

Bring your thoughts and/or comments to WiredWednesday this week, post them right here, or better yet do both!!

I guess i should start:

Personally, i don’t befriend students, current or past. I constantly am considering and re-considering this – and still don’t have a definitive answer. I think having two accounts is a decent solution – and this is how i’ve handled my in-class social networking activities…

HOWEVER

this i believe to be a major difference and a challenge. Our students don’t differentiate in their online lives like we feel the need to. When they “friend” our other identity they give us access to a lot of stuff that…to be honest, I do not want.
A lot of the buzz of these technologies (who’s momentum we are hoping to use to drive us toward our learning goals) is using the power of true social networking – and the students’ love for it – to drive an educational goal. If they were to begin creating other identities for “school stuff” then a lot of that power could be lost, or in other terms we would return to simply “doing this for the teacher”.

My attitude is that although the definition of “friend” is rapidly changing – the one that i use…doesn’t include my students. Thus i do not include them in my “friends” on facebook

like i said at the outset, a lot of thought…but no real answers…


One thought on “friends or facebook friends?

  1. I have a very strict policy for myself on facebook friends. What little time I spend on facebook has let me see how easy it is for “other” people to see your stuff. I don’t want students in my personal life. That’s not my relationship with them. My purpose is to teach, mentor and guide, not befriend. As you’ve said however, they don’t see the difference. I have a professional account for college guidance and I literally took my seniors to the computer lab so they would block me from their personal pages…. However, I can still see their photos, comments, etc because two or three did not block me. That gives me access to too much information, even on those who did! I don’t think administrator supervision is the way to go, that feels too much like invasion of privacy. If teachers feel the need to be in contact with their students, then set up a “professional” page, separate from your personal one. A teacher has to think about their image AND their colleagues’ image. If a teacher has kids on his/her page, then sometimes their students can see “my” stuff…. I’m not comfortable with that. Back to yesterday’s discussion, no one should see my picture if I don’t give specific permission for it!

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